Inflammatory liver diseases as a group are the second most common type of liver disease in cats. There is some evidence that bacterial infection causes this class of disease, but that fact has not been clearly proven. The goal of this study is to evaluate whether bacterial infection of the liver and/or bile is more common in cats with inflammatory liver disease than in cats with other types of liver disease or normal cats. Cats presenting to our hospital with evidence of liver disease where a liver biopsy is recommended will be enrolled. Liver biopsy and gall bladder bile samples will be obtained from all cats.
Both samples will be examined by a pathologist to determine what the underlying disease is. The samples will be tested for bacterial infection using traditional methods and by using a newer method called real time PCR (RT-PCR) which identifies bacterial DNA in the sample. We hope that this test will provide a method of more rapidly identifying the offending bacteria (it takes a few hours as compared to days for traditional methods) and may identify some bacteria that cannot be identified by traditional methods. We also hope to show whether bacteria are more commonly isolated from liver biopsy tissue or from gall bladder bile. If we are able to identify the bacteria that most commonly cause inflammatory liver disease in cats and determine how best to find them, this will improve the diagnosis and treatment of this common disease for our future feline patients.